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The terrible cold is a closing hand. It takes back the edges of land and water it once offered. It is alive, you mustn't doubt this, and it holds danger in its fist. It says a mirage is a city of warmth, but when you go there it is always beyond the next white horizon that can never be possessed. I was looking at that far city the night snow lied about the darker world beneath it, that brittle night it grew cold so fast the geese froze into water and couldn't fly. Their fear cried out across the helpless land, and when I heard them I was the hand of death gone soft enough to hit the solid skin of water with stick, with rock, with fear that what held them held me. South was their way that night. They wanted to follow it. Even my human ears heard its blue voice in the stretched and beating wings, as I cut one leg loose, then another, until breaking gave way to currents above and below that drew them. They pushed against the broken edges of water, long-necked angels that rose, escaping me and ice and sky took them in beyond the curved edge of horizon where one beautiful world moved above another skimming the flat white lake, the wounded ice left behind to heal itself.
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Author:Hogan, Linda
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:May 1, 1993
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